‘Sanctuary California’ Bill Risks Federal Funding Cut-off

Protesters sit in the international terminal at San Francisco International Airport in California on January 29, 2017

The Democrat-controlled California Legislature moved forward last week to make California a “sanctuary state,” in spite of a White House threat to cut off federal funds if it did so.

In retaliation for the threat against its sanctuary counties and cities, the legislature is advancing Senate Bill 54 on a fast-track to passage.

Most sanctuary cities and counties around the United States have policies that block local law enforcement from complying with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detainer requests, which ask local law enforcement agencies to hold individuals for an additional 48 hours (excluding weekends and holidays) after their release date. The extra time is meant to allow ICE agents a window of time to decide whether to take a detained individual into federal custody for removal purposes.

But the current version of SB54 would actually go farther as an extension of rights to illegal aliens and undocumented workers by denying ICE and U.S. Customs and Border Protection entry to all local jails, restricting their access to some state databases, and banning all state and local agencies from asking and collecting information regarding any individual’s immigration status.

SB 54 is a direct rejection of the January 25 Presidential Executive Order, “Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States,” which states: “Sanctuary jurisdictions across the United States willfully violate Federal law in an attempt to shield aliens from removal from the United States. These jurisdictions have caused immeasurable harm to the American people and to the very fabric of our Republic.”

Gov. Jerry Brown has not stated if he will sign SB54 in its current form and risk a titanic financial confrontation with the federal government. But Breitbart News reported in October 2013 that Brown signed A B4, known as the Trust Act, which prohibited the LAPD and other local law enforcement agencies from detaining people for deportation if they were arrested for a minor crime and otherwise eligible to be released from custody.

California currently receives $367.8 billion, or about $9,712 per resident, per year from the federal government. Subtracting out direct federal payments for federal entitlements, defense contracts, veterans, former employee pensions, and other budget items, the State of California expects to receive about $87.1 billion, or 35 percent of this year’s $252.5 billion state budget, directly from the United States Treasury.

Breitbart News reported that the Department of Justice’s Inspector General had issued a memorandum in August 2016 advising 15 counties and three cities in California that their “sanctuary” practices regarding immigration enforcement violated federal law and could result in the stripping of hundreds of millions of dollars in annual federal funding.

A general cut-off of federal funding would devastate California’s economy and probably bankrupt the state, as well as many counties and cities. But governmental relations lawyers that spoke to Breitbart News suggested that challengers to such an across-the-board California funding cut-off could try to rely on court rulings that said the federal government can only withhold funds to local jurisdictions if the money is directly tied to the behavior to which it objects.

However, Dale Wilcox, executive director of the Washington-based conservative Immigration Reform Law Institute, told Reuters that the federal government can restrict public assistance “of any kind where an illegal alien could possibly benefit.”


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